Winter tyres are a boon when dealing with heavy, muddy conditions. But you still need to know how to manage skidding and what to do when you get seriously stuck in the mud driving off-road.
Driving off-road requires the right tyres, and the right set of skills. Even experienced drivers can steer in to difficulty when trekking through muddy terrain. In adverse conditions tyres and your vehicle’s ground clearance matter as much as your driving skills.
You might have switched from summer tyres to those specially designed for driving off-road (such as mud tyres or all-terrain tyres). But you should still be educated in how to behave when your vehicle skids or gets stuck. The online shop for tyres and car parts 123spareparts.co.uk shares these excellent tips on how to regain traction even on the ooziest road.
How to react to skidding when driving off-road
What happens in a front wheel skid? It is when your vehicle keeps travelling forwards or sideways when you turn your steering wheel. Once this happens you need to:
- Gently take your foot off the accelerator so that the vehicle can slow down. This will let your front wheels regain traction and direct the vehicle where you need.
- Turn your steering wheel in the direction of the skidding.
- Do not to slam on brakes, although this urge is quite natural. It will only worsen the situation. (Actions are the same if you are skidding on ice).
Driving off-road in the mud
If a quagmire stretches in front of you:
- Get out and see how deep the mud is. Obvious, but a brief check can save you from a long (and sometimes costly) recovery once you get stuck.
- Are there ruts? If the track is untouched and there are no ruts, you are lucky. But if you see ruts try to avoid getting into them by driving off-road on the highest possible area. Getting stuck in the deep rut is a common thing especially in a vehicle has a low ground clearance. So before hitting this muddy piece of the road, make sure your vehicle is capable of doing it.
What to do if you are stuck in the mud when driving off-road or on-road
If your wheels are turning fruitlessly and you are unable to climb out of the rapidly forming rut, try these simple steps:
- Turn on hazard lights. It is important to stay visible for the vehicles driving by. Activate flares and arrange them around your vehicle. Be careful on the mud as it is too easy to slip. Don’t leave your car in extremely dangerous conditions. Call for breakdown assistance or emergency services if required. (It is useful to have the numbers stored on your mobile phone).
- Rock the vehicle. If you’ve got a manual vehicle, switch to the highest gear (use the lowest gear for automatics). Then turn the wheels straight with the steering wheel and accelerate very gently. If it doesn’t help, try again but with the tyres turned to a small angle.
- Slightly deflate tyres. Let out some of the air in all four tyres by pressing on the valve stem. Deflated tyres have wider surface area, so it can help in regaining traction with the road. Just remember to inflate tyres to the recommended psi afterwards, when you reach solid ground.
- Use sand for added traction. It’s good to have a bag containing sand in your boot during the muddy season. Pour the sand around the tyres to get assistance with traction. If you don’t have sand, try placing improvised materials you find to hand (such as twigs, planks or even car mats) under the tyres. This will provide the tyres with some rough stuff to gain traction.
- Dig out the layer of mud around tyres with a shovel or something else that can be used for this purpose.